Long Live The Queen
In the Lions Den
CHAPTER
1
Prologue : Part One
Princess Juliana let out a frustrated yawn, flopping back onto her bed in exasperation. She couldn’t sleep. Her mind refused to rest, reeling at the thought that her parents would actually let her go down to the city surrounding their palace. Soon enough she would be able to join her parents, the king and queen of Hoenhiem, and older brothers, the first and second princes, in various diplomatic events, balls, dinners, and so much more. She had been waiting for this day for years, the day when she could shed the skin of a child and step into the spotlight as a proper lady.
Although, with war with Alaria on the horizon, her father was loathe to set her into any public space. He was overly cautious when it came to his only daughter.
And, she supposed, twelve year-olds didn’t really count as ladies no matter what they did.
The thought was overshadowed by the thought of going into town without anyone knowing who she was. She absolutely detested being called “Highness”, and no one in the city would realize they had a princess in their midst.
The idea sent her heart soaring. She longed to walk among her people, she wanted to know what it was like to live in a common town, be a common person. She wanted to be a figure of equality for her country.
Tossing and turning, she took her pillow and shoved it under her neck. It didn’t help. She tried curling her knees to her chest, but her legs just started to seize up. She stretched so she lay spread eagle on her back and blew a stray strand of dark hair out of her face.
She wondered if she should go down to the kitchens to make a cup of chamomile tea to soothe her nerves but decided the better of it. It was such a long way there, with an unreasonable number of staircases between locations. Besides, the already sleep deprived Esmeralda, her nursemaid, would give her hell for not waking her up to make it. She was as terrifying as a mother bear when she was angry.
Finally, she decided to go on a simple walk to clear her head. Slipping out of her sheets, the duvet kicked down to the end of the bed, she quickly put on her soft slippers and padded to the door. She cringed as it creaked open, the sound deafening in the silence of the hallway. She slipped through the opening and quickly shut it, waiting with held, bated breath to see if any guards had been close enough to hear her.
It appeared that their rounds had taken them away from her corner of the castle, giving her just enough time to take a short stroll through the halls.
She walked quickly and silently, knowing if she got caught there would be guards posted outside her room for a month.
The palace was cold and desolate during this time of the night, most of the torches had been quenched and the most of its inhabitants were soundly in bed.
It was an ideal time to tour the halls. No one bowing where ever she went, nowhere she had to be. She was, for the most part, alone.
She found herself in the east wing of the residential quarters, the area that housed her parents rooms. Maybe she could wake her mother and ask her to read to her, perhaps that would soothe her racing mind. Juliana could read perfectly well on her own, but there was something about her mother that calmed her in a way no midnight stroll ever could.
As she walked towards her mothers rooms she noticed something unusual. The door was open ajar. Her mother always made a point of keeping her door closed while she slept, she always said she always felt unsafe when the door was open.
Maybe she had stayed up late writing in her journal. Her mother was an avid writer. Yes, that was it, she had stayed up writing till late at night like she often did. Juliana wouldn’t even have to wake her up.
Jules opened the door cautiously, the metal of the handle cold on her fingers. She stopped just outside the threshold, knocking on the door frame.
“Mother?” She asked, “Would you come read to me?”
No reply.She called again but the room remained silent save for the sound of a crackling fire.
Finally, she opened the door completely and screamed.
Her mother lay prone on the floor, a dark stain spread on the rug beneath her.
Julia could feel herself choking on the coppery scent of blood, hysteria bubbling in her throat. Horror hung heavy in her limbs, weighing her down. She felt as if she were sinking in a frigid ocean.
With great effort she shook of the paralysis and rushed to her mother. Blood flowed freely from a wound in her abdomen, soaking her nightgown. Julia knelt by her side, bringing her ear to her mothers chest like she had been taught in her health studies, listening for any sign of a heartbeat. She felt a wave of relief wash over her when she found a soft but steady thumping in her mothers chest. Juliana lifted her head into her lap, brushing her fingers over her mothers temples.
“Mother?” She said softly, “Mother, please wake up.”.
With a groan her mother opened her eyes, her hazy stare fixing on her daughters face, fear raw in her gaze.
“What happened mother, who did this to you?” Tear dripped onto her mother’s face as Juliana wiped the stray hairs from her temple. Her mother grabbed her hand, pressing something hard and cold into her daughters palm.
“I’m sorry my little lioness, there’s no time to explain. You must leave now.” Her voice was hoarse but forceful, queenly, despite the situation.”Find Esmeralda. She’ll know where to take you.”
Juliana looked at the object her mother had given her, two rings. The signet rings of the king and queen.
The room started to spin beneath her. Where was her father? Dead? Dying? She had no way of knowing if any of the people she cared about were alive. If someone had raided the castle no one would be safe, hot even Juliana herself. Suddenly, her mother began to cough violently, bringing her hand to her mouth. Her fingers came away scarlet.
“Quickly! You must leave my love. Take the rings and reclaim your kingdom when the time comes! Know that I will be with you where ever you go.”
Reclaim her kingdom? Juliana felt her heart climb even higher into her throat. This wasn’t a simple assassination, not a mere raid. This was a coup. At least that was what her mother believed. And Queen Reynah of
“What do you mean? I’m not leaving you! We have to hurry and find help!” Juliana made an attempt to support her mother, slipping her arm around her neck. She stood for a few seconds before crumpling under her mothers weight. Injured woman cried out in pain.
“Mother!”
“I’m fine my dear, I’ll be fine. Now please go before he returns!”
“Who, mother? Who could of done this?”
Her mother looked at her, a mixture of fierce rage and horrible betrayal simmered behind her eye.
“Your unc- Get under the bed.” Her voiced turned into a harsh whisper.
“Wha-“
“Get under the bed, quietly and quickly.” She pushed Juliana away roughly.
Jules was about to demand to know what in barking hell was going on when she heard the footsteps. They were heavy, too heavy to be a woman’s, and deep, as if the man was wearing boots.
She scrambled under the bed, her breath baited. The footsteps came closer and closer, painfully slow in her terror. Finally they stopped. A low chuckle rumbled through the room. It was not a pleasant sound, it was low and coarse and cold, like rough hewn stone.
“Oh, how I have waited for this day.” A voice spoke, a mans voice, oddly familiar.
The man stepped into the room. A metallic scratching noise bounced off the walls. A sword had been drawn. The intruder made his way across the floor to her mother, his boots passing directly in front of her. She watched in horror as the man crouched by her mother. She had propped herself against the wall, her brow shining with sweat. The man tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
“Sister. I am truly sorry for all of this. You shouldn’t have to suffer for your husbands mistakes.” Sister? It couldn’t be uncle Ferdinand, not the kindly man who had doted on her as a child. Not the man who had helped her make daisy chains in the field just outside the palace. Her fathers own brother. And yet, his voice, it had to be.
And her “husbands mistakes” could he mean her father? Where was he? Dead? Dying? And her brothers, what had happened to Thomas and Loyd. Had they managed to escape? They were still so young, children. Ferdinand wouldn’t dare harm children. Would he?
Ferdinand’s hand moved to cup her mothers chin. His movements were gentle, stark in contrast with the steely tone of his voice, an iron fist beneath a silk glove. “But I can’t have anyone doubting my ascension to the throne. Now tell me where I can find young Juliana, I don’t wat any competition for the right to rule this fine kingdom.” Her mother snarled.
“What have you done to my husband you bastard?”
“Now, now. If I remember correctly we were discussing your lovely little daughter. Pray tell me where you’ve hidden her?” He pressed his boot into her mothers wound. She cried out in pain. “If you tell me now I’ll make sure your death is quick and painless.”
“Id sooner cut off my own head than give her to you.” Ferdinand laughed.
“Very well.” He said before bringing his sword down on her mothers neck.
~~~~
Hey! It’s the author. This is my first book and I’m so happy you decided it give it a chance. If you liked it and want to read more, great! Tell me about it. If you didn’t, that’s fine too. You can be on your merry way.
Constructive criticism is very welcome.
Please don’t steal.
Again, thank you so, so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.
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